RSS Feed

Category Archives: News

Further proof of global warming – Irish Times.

Posted on

Don’t be fooled by the spring snows, they are further proof of global warming

Action must be taken now to have any hope of limiting the damage

Farmer Donald O'Reilly rescues a sheep trapped in a snow drift in the Aughafatten area of Co Antrim last week. Photograph:  Cathal McNaughton/Reuters Farmer Donald O’Reilly rescues a sheep trapped in a snow drift in the Aughafatten area of Co Antrim last week. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

David Robert Grimes

First published:Mon, Apr 1, 2013, 06:00   

What a difference a year makes; a year ago Europe was basking in some of the warmest spring temperatures recorded. Last week all that seemed a very distant memory as we shivered through a prolonged freeze, with snow encroaching into what was once the height of spring.The reason for this worrying; Arctic ice melted at record rates last year, releasing heat energy. This altered the fast-flowing air currents above our planet, known as the Jet stream, allowing cold Arctic air to travel much further south than usual.While it may seem paradoxical that Arctic warming can freeze us so much, it is exactly what climate scientists have long predicted. And it will get worse. Prof Jennifer Francisof the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University in the US notes soberingly that “sea ice is… 80 per cent less than it was just 30 years ago… This is a symptom of global warming.”

The scientific consensus is unequivocal: climate change is happening right now, at a rate unprecedented in Earth’s history.

Earth’s climate is sensitive to change, and temperature swings are only the tip of the rapidly-melting iceberg. Despite the gravity of this threat, reaction has been somewhat muted, hovering somewhere between apathy and denial.

Understandably, climate science can be confusing, perhaps explaining some of our inertia; “global warming” refers to the increase in average global temperature. Counter-intuitively, this can lead to regions of cooling. The mechanism behind this is the greenhouse effect, which arises because certain gases have the ability to absorb thermal radiation from the Earth’s surface.

These gases then re-radiate it in all directions, including back towards Earth and essentially act as a heat trap, warming up the planet. This is long since understood — it was hypothesised by Joseph Fourier in 1824 and experimentally verified by Irish physicist John Tyndall in 1859. The fact that humans can thus affect climate is no surprise, what is surprising is just how fast we’re doing it.

Some question whether this effect is anthropogenic; perhaps this is all just a natural cycle? Sadly, no — ancient ice cores yield a record of temperature and atmosphere over hundreds of millennia, and shows our current rate of warming is hundreds of times beyond anything that has gone before, coinciding with the dawn of industrialisation.

More alarming is that while at no point during any previous glacial or interglacial period has the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration level reached as high as 300 ppm (parts per million), current levels are 390 ppm and rising, with predictions of up to 600 ppm in coming decades. This is most distinctly not natural variation.

Nor can we evade responsibly by postulating that this level is unrelated to human activities — CO2 released from fossil fuels has a distinct chemical signature, and points to our guilt as readily as fingerprints at a crime scene. This leaves only the inescapable conclusion that we are driving the destruction of our own environment.

The discussion is no longer about avoidance, but limitation. The most optimistic prediction is that in order to have a chance of limiting temperature rises to “only” 2 degree Celsius, we would need a global “carbon budget” of less than 886 gigatons between 2000 and 2050. By only 2006, we had already produced 234 gigatons. Coal is without a doubt the worst offender, both in terms of CO2 output and health, killing 1.3 million annually. Yet despite this, 2011 saw an ominous 5 per cent global rise in consumption of coal.

Since 1992, global CO2 emissions have risen 48 per cent, with power generation making up the bulk of this. To mitigate this, low carbon energy is imperative. Renewables are part of the solution, but they simply do not have the required yield or reliability.

Nuclear energy does, but still provokes an emotional rather than a rational reaction, and is all too frequently ignored for the sake of political expediency. Two years on, it bears repeating that the Fukushima accident of 2011 has killed nobody and likely never will. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, by contrast, killed more than 18,000. If nothing substantial is done, such disasters will increase in both frequency and intensity

It is also vital we reduce our personal energy expenditure. Home insulatation and reducing car usage can substantially reduce one’s carbon foot print. Perhaps the most powerful thing we can do collectively is insist our elected leaders take action, imposing carbon levies, rewarding energy efficiency, and most crucially, moving away from fossil fuels towards renewable and nuclear energy.

Climate change is not someone else’s problem — it affects all of us. To have any hope of limiting the damage we have already wrought, action must be taken now. The writing has been on the wall for some time. Whether we heed it remains to be seen.

Dr David Robert Grimes is a physicist and cancer researcher at Oxford @drg1985

Friends of St Declan’s Way.

Posted on

Friends of St Declan’s Way.

E-zine. Issue 1. Feb 2013


For more details on Friends of St Declan’s Way contact Conor Ryan, Conservation and Trails Animator, South Tipperary Development Company. Phone 087 7378123 or email


See also Knockmealdown-Vee on Facebook;

Knockmealdown Active on Facebook;


Posted on

All for one and one for all

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

GET Local is a new platform to help small businesses tap into nearby resources, says Oliver Moore

By Oliver Moore

FOUR ‘green’ entrepreneurs are empowering communities racked by austerity to start new businesses. Their initiative is called ‘GET’Local (Generate Enterprise Together).

Launched last year, GETLocal has had an impact in Borrisokane and Lower Ormond, in Tipperary, with more places due soon. The idea is simple: provide a platform to help communities develop new local enterprises in crucial areas.

“Our mission is to reverse the outflow of wealth from the Irish economy, which will reduce energy, food and transport costs, and redirect spending power for the benefit of the local community,” they say.

GETLocal focuses on the localised, low-carbon economy. They aim to help unemployed people create their own enterprises, by sharing information, coaching, niche skills, start-up capital, back office services, and customers.

The focus has been on food, energy and transport. The GETLocal social franchise is the brainchild of Aidan O’Brien and Ross Rabette, who live in what is fast becoming Ireland’s eco-business hub, Cloughjordan.

Rabette, 37, wanted to set up bioenergy villages in Ireland. “I moved to Cloughjordan, knowing that I would meet like-minded people to work with there. Aidan O’Brien brought a distinct jobs focus.”

O’Brien specialises in construction with natural materials, and has built many of the houses in Cloughjordan’s eco-village. The two have been joined by Alice D’Arcy and Dave McDonnell. D’Arcy supports food enterprises, while McDonnell fund-raises.

D’Arcy has a PhD in environmental science, specialising in the environmental impact of food and farming.

“My work in ecology, environmental sustainability, and research made GETLocal attractive to me. I like the fact that it has joined up a lot of economic areas, and that empowering communities to run things themselves, using their own resources, is a key part of it. The ethos of collaboration is important,” she says.

McDonnell is fundraising in the US, capital which GETLocal will make available to new enterprises, in partnership with a lending institution. Rabette is a biosystems engineer, and has designed and installed district heating systems and renewable energy technologies.

Cloughjordan’s eco-village has a district heating system powered, each year, by 200 tonnes of woodchip, while eco-villagers and residents of Cloughjordan own and operate a community farm.

Rabette said of his experiences in Germany: “The bioenergy villages in Germany were certainly inspirational,” he says. “In Juhnde, for example, they use fermented energy crops and farm slurry for gas capture, which provides heat and electricity. The community ownership model is key to the success of over 50 bio-energy villages there.”

Rabette says there are sustainability issues with bioenergy villages — many plant and then cut the growth to generate energy. He says it’s possible to take the best of the energy-capture technology without destroying the locale. “With, for example, food waste composting for energy capture, or more sustainable woodland management practices, to thin, rather than clear-fell, the forests.”

Community ownership of resources is growing in Germany, where 50% of renewable energy is owned by individuals or communities. This provides one fifth of all of Germany’s electricity.

Rabette cites the sharing economy. How often does anyone use all their power tools? Pooling those tools into an easy-access library would be savvy.

Rabette says communities import massive amounts of energy through their food, transport and houses. Energy is money. “The average household consumes about 90,000kw hours of imported energy, and food is the biggest category of fossil-fuel dependence, at over 40,000. Transport is second, and in-house costs, such as heat and electricity, are third,” he says.

Borrisokane, a few miles from Cloughjordan, is the first town to which many of these eco-business ideas have diffused.

There was resistance to the idea initially. “Because of the potential green agenda. But most of the best business opportunities lie in the green economy anyway, so money talks.

“We mapped resources, found gaps, helped develop business models and sought out the right kind of people to deliver them. We put on collaborative start-your-own-business courses, which created lots of synergies”.

Rabette says people interested in retro-fitting can use materials sourced from the materials bank, to also make chicken coups, or wood-log stores. “So just by putting on these courses, we supported people, but they also supported each other.”

At the GETLocal office in the town, they have built back-of-house supports, including developing software systems for purchasing products and services, a database of customers, training, contracts, sites and innovative fundraising techniques.

The latter, spearheaded by McDonnell, is vital in an economy where banks are not lending significantly. These services are part of how GETLocal will generate its own income, after the start-up phase.

Concurrently, a range of connected, nascent businesses is developing. These include libraries — tools, arts and materials — and a community food compost service.

Is there space for such initiatives to blossom? Maybe it all comes back to the price of potatoes, as Rabette says. “Borrisokane is a big potato-growing area. Middle-men pay farmers here €200 a tonne. After the potatoes are driven to Belfast and then Dublin, for processing and packaging, the consumer, even in Borrisokane, pays €1,300 a tonne. Why not form a consumer hub and approach farmers with a price just over €200 a tonne? Or, approach a hub member to start growing potatoes for that price?”

D’Arcy says: “A lot of friends and colleagues have emigrated, there aren’t huge opportunities in my area. After my PhD, I was unemployed. I’m hoping to help create employment, to help people establish businesses, so people who don’t want to leave the country don’t have to.”

News from the animal world.

Posted on

There is a lot of discussion about wind-mills and their perceived threat to birds – and of great concern – bats.

Here are a few discussion papers one might like to peruse.

Do Wind Turbines Kill Birds?

Every time the subject of wind farms comes up, so does the question “Do wind turbines kill birds?”

Even though wind turbines provide clean energy, some environmentalists object to them on the claim that they kill an extreme number of birds, especially raptors. It’s been a real hot button issue in some areas. The situation isn’t helped any by the fact that some not-in-my-backyard folks use a concern for birds to justify their objection to wind farms.

So the question is: do wind turbines kill birds? If so, how serious a problem is it?

I hope to describe the situation and put it into some perspective on this page.

The History of Wind Farms and Bird Kill – the Altmont Pass Problem.


Bats – considering bats in Ireland eat approx 3,500 insects per evening we can scarse do without them.

Bat Fatalities at Wind Turbines: Investigating the Causes and Consequences

Directly from FORT Science Centre  FORT Science Home
Find FORT Science by
  [SELECT AN OPTION]  Topic     State/Country     Species   

Wind energy facility in Colorado. Photo: Paul Cryan/USGSIn the push to develop new forms of sustainable energy, the wind power industry is at the forefront. Turbines that harness the power of wind already serve as effective power sources across the globe, and this proven effectiveness has led to vast increases in the number of turbines currently under construction. The general impact of wind turbines on the environment is likely far less than that of conventional power sources. However, recent evidence shows that certain species of bats are particularly susceptible to mortality from wind turbines. Bats are beneficial consumers of harmful insect pests, and migratory species of bats cross international and interstate boundaries.

Dead bats are turning up beneath wind turbines all over the world. Bat fatalities have now been documented at nearly every wind facility in North America where adequate surveys for bats have been conducted, and several of these sites are estimated to cause the deaths of thousands of bats per year. This unanticipated and unprecedented problem for bats has moved to the forefront of conservation and management efforts directed toward this poorly understood group of mammals. The mystery of why bats die at turbine sites remains unsolved. Is it a simple case of flying in the wrong place at the wrong time? Are bats attracted to the spinning turbine blades? Why are so many bats colliding with turbines compared to their infrequent crashes with other tall, human-made structures?

One research tool that is particularly well-suited to studying the origins of bats killed at wind turbines is stable isotope analysis. USGS scientists recently pioneered the application of stable hydrogen isotope analysis to the study of migration in terrestrial mammals and proved the efficacy of the technique for studying the continental movements of bats. Coincidentally, this groundbreaking research focused on the very same species of bat (the hoary bat, Lasiurus cinereus) that is killed most frequently at wind turbine sites across North America. Efforts are now underway at USGS to expand the existing framework of stable isotope data on migratory tree bats and apply this technique toward uncovering some of the mystery surrounding bat fatalities at wind turbines.

Continuing on this prior trajectory, USGS scientists at the Fort Collins Science Center developed an active research program to investigate the causes and consequences of bat fatalities at wind turbines. Our specific focus is on (1) determining the geographic origins of killed bats and (2) assessing the potential roles of mating and feeding behaviors in the susceptibility of tree bats to deadly encounters with wind turbines. With expertise and experience studying bat migration and behavior, combined with an existing infrastructure that promotes collaboration between disciplines, the USGS is well-equipped to effectively address the problem of bat mortality at wind power facilities. Only through further research will we make progress toward minimizing the impact of this new form of sustainable energy on our Nation’s wildlife.

To learn more about this work or opportunities to collaborate, contact

Paul Cryan
USGS Fort Collins Science Center
2150 Centre Ave., Bldg. C
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8118
Tel. 970.226.9389
Fax 970.226.9230

This is a very short cut from a longer paper follow link above to read more and find more links .

U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information:



The 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI)

Posted on

The 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI)

The 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 163 countries on 25 performance indicators tracked across ten policy categories covering both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national government scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy goals. The EPI’s proximity-to-target methodology facilitates cross-country comparisons as well as analysis of how the global community is doing collectively on each particular policy issue.

58Sri Lanka63.7
85Viet Nam59.0

Beneficial Bacteria: 12 Ways Microbes Help The Environment

Posted on

Beneficial Bacteria: 12 Ways Microbes Help The Environment

Posted: 26 Sep 2011 10:00 AM PDT

[ By Steph in Energy & Fuel & History & Trivia & Science & Research. ]

We have become obsessed with eliminating bacteria, attacking with gels and wipes the microbes we associate with infection, illness and death. But not only are many types of bacteria actually helpful, some strains may hold the key to fighting global warming, cleaning up pollution, breaking down plastic and even developing a cure for cancer. These 12 amazing discoveries demonstrate the many ways in which microscopic organisms help maintain the health of our own bodies and the entire planet.

Gulf Oil Spill Gases Eaten by Bacteria

(images via: wikimedia commons)

Certain types of bacteria can actually clean up troublesome environmental pollutants like spilled petroleum. In fact, a specific strain called Alcanivorax drastically increases in population when an oil spill provides them with large amounts of food, so that they’re able to remove much of the oil. They’re at work on the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico right now, and while they certainly can’t undo the vast damage that has been done to this region as a result, they definitely provide a beneficial effect.

Bacteria Eat Pollution and Generate Electricity

(images via: science news)

Bacteria with tiny wire-like appendages called nanowires not only digest toxic waste – including PCBs and chemical solvents – they produce electricitywhile they’re at it. One type in particular, called Shewanella, is a deep-sea bacteria that grows these oxygen-seeking nanowires when placed in low-oxygen environments. Researchers discovered that when the microbes’ nanowires are pricked with platinum electrodes, they can carry a current. If these capabilities can be harnessed effectively, they could one day be used in sewage treatment plants to simultaneously digest waste and power the facilities.

Geobacter Consume Radioactive Contamination

(images via: wikimedia commonssharenator)

The nanowires grown by certain types of bacteria can also be used to immobilize harmful materials – like uranium – and keep them from spreading. A research team at Michigan State University has learned that Geobacter bacteria, which is found naturally in soil, essentially electroplates uranium, rendering it insoluble so it can’t dissolve and contaminate groundwater. These bacteria can be brought into uranium contamination sites like mines and nuclear plants in order to contain the radiation, potentially limiting the disastrous consequences of these types of spills.

Plastic-Eating Bacteria Breaks Down Bags

(image via: katerha)

Non-biodegradable and far too ubiquitous on this planet, plastic becomes a big problem when it comes to disposal. But in 2008, a Canadian student carried out a truly amazing science experiment in which bacteria were able to consume plastic. Since then, research teams have been working on developing this ability and using it to our benefit. A professor at the University of Dublin got the bacteria to metabolize cooked-down plastic bottles into a new type of plastic that’s actually biodegradable.

Earlier this year, scientists discovered that bacteria are already breaking down plastic debris in the world’s oceans on their own, though they’re not yet sure whether this will have a positive or negative effect on the environment. Items like fishing line and plastic bags are devoured by these bacteria; the problem is that the waste that the bacteria then produce could potentially be harmful to ocean ecosystems as it travels up the food chain.

Nylon-Eating Bacteria Clean Up Factory Waste

(image via: ingrid taylar)

We count on a polymer called Nylon 6 for all kinds of everyday uses like toothbrushes, surgical sutures, ropes, hosiery and strings for instruments like violins. The manufacture of this material produces toxic byproducts that get carried out in waste water – but – you guessed it – there’s a bacterium for that, too. Flavobacterium actually evolved to produce special enzymes to digest these byproducts that they didn’t have previously, and that aren’t seen in similar bacterial strains.

In fact, the ability to produce these enzymes in order to consume a material that didn’t even exist prior to the invention of nylon in 1935 is often used as evidence against the theory of creationism, which denies that any new information can be added to a genome by mutation.

Metabolizing Methane, A Greenhouse Gas

(images via: livescience)

One of the most dangerous greenhouse gases, methane is produced by all sorts of industrial and natural processes, including the decomposition of our own waste and that of livestock. Scientists fighting global warming are struggling to find ways to control the effects of methane, but one solution could come from a simple single-celled microorganism. Some types of bacteria use copper from the environment to metabolize methane, eliminating both the greenhouse gas and toxic heavy metals all at once.

Researchers are still trying to determine how to use this in real-world applications, but some options may include venting methane emissions through filters of these bacteria. What’s more, after eating the methane, the bacteria turn it into methanol – so we can harvest their waste for use as fuel.

Turning Newspapers into Car Fuel

(images via: striatic)

Microbes named T-103, found in animal waste, can produce the biofuel butanol by eating paper. Tulane University developed a method for growing the cellulose-consuming microbes so they can produce fuel in the presence of oxygen, which is lethal to other butanol-producing bacteria. This could make the whole fuel production process far less expensive and thus more potentially applicable in the real world. The researchers say that butanol produces more energy than ethanol, which is produced from corn sugar, and doesn’t require engine modifications. It can also be carried through existing fuel pipelines.

Soil-Dwelling Bacteria Kills Cancer

(images via: wikimedia commons)

Cancer and bacteria don’t go well together – at least, when you’re talking about immune response. But one type of bacteria, called Clostridium sporogenes, may actually be used to deliver drugs in cancer therapy thanks to its ability to target tumors. Professor Nigel Minton of the University of Nottingham has learned that C. sporogenes will only grow in oxygen-depleted environments – like the center of solid tumors. When injected into a tumor log with cancer drugs, the bacteria can help the drugs kill the tumor cells without affecting healthy tissue. Researchers expect to have a streamlined strain developed for use in a clinical trial by 2013.

Panda Poop Bacteria Makes Biofuel

(images via: wikimedia commons)

“Who would have guessed that ‘panda poop’ might help solve one of the major hurdles to producing biofuels, which is optimizing the breakdown of the raw plant materials used to make the fuels?” says Ashli Brown, Ph.D., co-author of a study on how bacteria in panda feces can break down a super-tough plant material known as lignocellulose. This discovery could speed up development of plant-based biofuels that don’t rely on food crops. Several types of digestive bacteria found in the panda feces are similar to those found in termites, which of course are pros at digesting wood.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that panda waste will suddenly be in demand for the production of biofuels – that would probably be a lost cause, given the extremely precarious status of the species. The bacteria that have been identified for their cellulose-processing abilities will be isolated and grown on a commercial scale. However, it does prove how important biodiversity really is, and that many species around the world may have more to offer than we realize.

Turning Human Waste into Rocket Fuel

(images via: elvertbarneswikimedia commons)

Pandas aren’t the only species whose waste may hold the key to producing fuel. With the help of the bacteria Brocadia anammoxidans, human sewage could be transformed into hydrazine, better known as rocket fuel. The bacteria naturally consume ammonia and produce hydrazine in the process. Until their discovery, scientists thought that hydrazine was only a man-made substance. However, this is less of a boon to NASA than it is to sewage treatment plants. In standard plants, waste-eating bacteria require oxygen to be pumped in with power-chugging equipment, so this development could save a lot of money.

Sulphur-Eating Bacteria Reduce Acid Run-Off

(image via: wikimedia commons)

When sulphur in mine tailings from mining operations react with water and oxygen, they produce toxic sulphuric acid, a major environmental problem which may also be contributing to climate change. Researchers at McMaster University found that two species of bacteria isolated from a mine tailings pond in northern Ontario work together to use sulphur as an energy source, producing and consuming each other’s sulphur-containing waste in a cycle that reduces the amount of toxic runoff Acid Mine Drainage (AMD). This runoff dissolves carbonate rocks and releases CO2, worsening climate change, so the more it is reduced, the less carbon dioxide gas is released into the atmosphere.

Probiotic Bacteria That Treat Depression & Anxiety

(images via: alancleaver_2000)

We already know that beneficial bacteria play an incredibly important role in our own biology, helping with everything from dental health to digestion. But probiotic bacteria may even alter brain neurochemistry, helping to treat anxiety and depression-related disorders. Researchers at McMaster University in Canada and University College Cork in Ireland demonstratedthat mice fed with the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1 showed a marked decrease in stress, anxiety and depression-related behaviors as well as lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This opens the door to potential microbial-based treatments for psychiatric disorders.

Fuel’s Gold: 10 More Unusual Alternative Energy Sources

By Steve in Energy & FuelScience & ResearchTechnology & Gadgets

Mankind’s quest for energy has successively centered on wood, coal and oil though these fuels are slowly giving way to nuclear, wind and geothermal power sources. Even newer fuels have sparked alternatives, however, and what today seems odd and impractical may someday be commonplace. These 10 unusual alternative energy sources show real hope that goes beyond the usual hype.


Used Adult Diapers

(image via: InventorSpot)

Adult diapers – they’re more common than you think, especially in Japan where the average population is aging rapidly and the national output of used adult diapers has soared past the 5 billion mark. A company called Super Faiths thinks there’s a better use for used adult diapers than simply burying them – why not burn them as fuel?

(images via: InventorSpotGreen LaunchesJapan Times and Now Public)

The SFD Recycle System pulverizes and sterilizes used adult diapers, then forms them into pellets suitable for fueling large biomass boilers. The machines are rather large and are designed to process large numbers of adult diapers, not a problem because the expected users are large hospitals and retirement homes.


(image via: Unique Daily)

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are being developed by a number of researchers who seek to employ specialized bacteria to break down waste products of various types and, in the process of doing so, create energy that can be stored for future use. A team of British researchers is working with urine (from either Man or beast) as a medium, explaining that “Urine is chemically very active, rich in nitrogen and has compounds such as urea, chloride, potassium and bilirubin which make it very good for the microbial fuel cells.”

(images via: EbooksXNext Energy NewsSpace Fellowship and AOL News)

Organizations such as NASA have taken specific interest in MFCs that use urine and other, er, related wastes to produce energy as such substances would tend to either accumulate on board a spacecraft or would have to be ejected into space. Remember that the next time you wish upon a “star”.

Confiscated Booze

(image via: Autoblog Green)

You’ve heard that drinking and driving doesn’t mix, but don’t tellSvensk Biogas AB. The Swedish biogas company is partnering with the Scandinavian nation’s customs service to process 185,000 gallons of seized smuggled alcohol seized by the customs service last year into enough biogas to power over 1,000 buses and trucks – even a train (above). “We used to just pour it down the drain, but because of the increased volumes we had to look around for new solutions,” said Swedish customs spokeswoman Ingrid Jerlebrink. With the new partnership agreement in place, “We pump it into a big tank that we jokingly call ‘the giant cocktail’ and then a truck just comes and picks it up.”

(images via: Brain Tree HempBUSS Branschen and Daily Echo)

The Svensk Biogas AB plant in Linkoping, located 125 miles southwest of Stockholm, heats the confiscated booze and converts into biogas. One quart of pure alcohol is required to produce about a tenth of a gallon of biogas, and according to Carl Lilliehook, head of Svensk Biogas AB, “It is good business, because the material to make it is free.”

People Power

(images via: Daily Mail)

Power to the people? How about power FROM the people! A number of initiatives currently being pursued look to harness the kinetic energy created – and wasted – by groups of people performing energetic tasks. One project already in place in Tokyo, Japan, usespiezoelectric floor pads positioned where pedestrian commuters are more likely to tread: outside train stations and beneath ticket turnstiles, for instance.

(images via: InhabitatGlam and Telegraph UK)

Commuters can be somewhat tired and listless, but there are other places where people expend a lot of energy and have fun doing it – like dancing and working out. The former takes place at Club Watt in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, which calls itself “The World’s First Sustainable Dance Club.” The club’s dance floor features embedded LEDs that are powered by kinetic energy generated by dancers. Bee Gees, met BTUs. The latter occurs at so-called “green gyms” likeGreen Revolution, where a group cycling class with 20 bikes can generate up to 3.6 megawatts of renewable electrical energy annually – more than enough to pedal, er, peddle elsewhere.

Burning Seawater

(image via: Radiowaves)

How fortunate we would be if it were possible to drink seawater AND use it as fuel. Well surprisingly enough, one of those wishes might soon be answered and grab a beer because it’s not the first. Leukemia patient and researcher John Kanzius has been experimenting with a new cancer-fighting technique that destroys cancer-causing agents through the use of radio waves.

(images via: CBS NewsAmazon and How Stuff Works)

Kanzius noted that his radio-frequency generator broke the water molecules in the seawater into their component elements: hydrogen and oxygen, and as anyone familiar with the 1937 Hindenburg Disaster knows, hydrogen will burn fiercely in the presence of oxygen. As long as Kanzius kept his generator on, the seawater “burned” at a temperature of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Oh, the huge potential!

Poultry Waste

(image via: Ribotto)

There’s a way to turn previously useless agricultural byproducts into clear, clean, fuel oil – if, that is, you’ve got the guts. Turkey guts, in this case. The recipe may sound disgusting but it works: grind poultry heads, feathers and innards fine and mix with water, then heat to 500 degrees Fahrenheit at 600 psi. Cook for about an hour, or until the complex polymers in the offal mix start to break down. A little distillation and what was once garbage is now as good as gold… black gold.

(images via: Chemistryland and Chosun)

Changing World Technologies is behind the push to turn organic, carbon-based waste from computer parts to turkey guts into fuel oil through thermo-depolymerization. Nature herself has paved the way: the billions of barrels of oil and gas buried deep underground were once living plants and animals “processed” into hydrocarbons by heat and pressure over hundreds of millions of years. CWT just speeds up the process a bit.

Landfill Gas

(image via: Savvy Studios)

So you’ve got a landfill that, like most landfills, burps (for want of a better word) methane from decomposing buried garbage. What to do? Well, one idea is to pipe it to a nearby school. Well, not directly – the EcoLine project uses purified methane gas captured from a nearby landfill to power 85 percent of the University Of New Hampshire’s heat and electricity needs. Rivals may still say UNH stinks but no, it’s just the landfill gas.

(images via: Treehugger and CNBC)

With the EcoLine project, UNH becomes the first school in the nation to source a majority of its power from landfill gas. The power isn’t free – infrastructure must be put in place to trap, store and purify the methane – but it’s significantly cheaper than burning fossil fuel with the added benefit of being non-polluting.

Cow Farts

(image via: Gr33nData)

Research by Argentine scientists has revealed that a single 1,210 lb (550 kg) cow produces 28 to 35 cubic feet (800 to 1,000 liters) of methane emissions each day – and let’s be frank, by “emissions” we don’t mean evaporating sweat. Nope, it’s cow farts. Cow burps too; these multi-stomached ruminants emit copious clouds of methane from both ends. Lucky for them some prankster doesn’t walk up with a lit match.

(images via: China Post and Thomas LaCour)

Methane is a much more reactive greenhouse gas compared to carbon dioxide and unlike CO2, it burns quite nicely. If only there were some practical way to capture the methane emitted by cows, sheep, goats, llamas… basically ANY domestic livestock, we’d be killing two birds with one stone. The cumbersome collection tank mounted on the recalcitrant bovine above is one possible solution but if not that, what?

Coffee Grounds

(image via: Daniel Talsky)

Next to oil, coffee is the most traded commodity on the planet. Unlike oil, coffee production and preparation creates a lot of waste. Now it seems that this so-called waste – coffee grounds in particular – can be put to good use as a fuel. Researchers at the University of Nevada’s Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering analyzed coffee grounds and discovered they contain a significant percentage of oil in the form of biodiesel. What’s more, the natural anti-oxidants in the extracted coffee oil help extend its shelf life. The leftover grounds can be compacted and burnt as pelletized fuel.

(images via: Science of Coaching SquashMarilka and BHIP Global)

While home users won’t be able to do much with their used coffee grounds beyond composting them, major coffee retailers could reap huge rewards by changing the way they treat waste grounds. It’s estimated that Starbucks generates 210 million pounds of coffee grounds annually. Processing these grounds could provide nearly 3 million gallons of biodiesel and about 90,000 tons of fuel pellets.

Bouncing Breasts

(image via: Slate)

What two things do female joggers have in common? If you answered breasts and MP3 players, you’d be right – and you probably need to get out more. The question is relevant, however, because some joggers have posited powering their iPods with energy generated by the repetitive motions of their breasts. Though companies like Triumph Japan have shown off solar-powered bras, there’s real science behind harnessing, if you will, the power of bouncing breasts.Victoria’s Circuit… you’ve gotta love it!

(images via: The Silverbacks and Zimbio)

LaJean Lawson works as a consultant for sportswear companies like Nike and has been researching breast motion since 1985 in an effort to design better sports bras. Lawson discovered that a runner’s breasts move from side to side, from front to back, and up and down with the most motion is generated vertically. That may seem obvious; this more so: “Naturally, the bigger the breast, the more momentum it generates.” Giggity.

(image via: HubPages)

Alternative energy sources are only unusual in the sense that they are unused, impractical, unprofitable or all of the above. That may just mean the times aren’t right for their implementation. Petroleum was known to the ancients but it wasn’t until late in the Industrial Revolution that oil was effectively sourced and processed into usable forms. It’s unknown what the future will hold for energy, but at least it’s certain there ARE alternatives.

Mountain bike boost with New ‘Second Highest Downhill Course in Europe’

Posted on

Mountain bike boost with € 450k sports grant 


Wednesday August 03 2011

IT has been described as one of the most exciting sports and tourism projects anywhere in the country and will help propel Kerry into becoming the adventure sports capital of Ireland. The announcement by Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar that over €430,000 is to be spent on an international standard mountain biking trail close to Glenflesk, has been roundly welcomed throughout Kerry.

The funding for the track at Shroneboy, Loughguittane, means that Kerry will be home to the second highest downhill course in Europe but for mountain bike enthusiasts, the higher spec Killarney facility should be a much more attractive option than the taller Fortwilliam course. The Killarney area will also reap the reward of hundreds of thousands of euros in visitor spending.

Former Cycling Ireland President Michael Concannnon said he was hugely excited about project.

“This is one of the most exciting sport and tourism projects that’s going to come on stream for a long, long time.

“It will be a huge piece of infrastructure that will cater for downhill and cross country enthusiasts and will do wonders for adventure tourism here in Kerry.”

The technical difficulty of the downhill course – 1,800 metres in length and a vertical drop of 360 metres – will mean that downhill riders will have to be experienced and require specialised equipment. It will be ideal as a venue for the European Masters Downhill and Cross Country Championships which have already been granted for 2014 and 2015 respectively.

With the events regularly attracting anything up to 1,000 entrants – last year’s championships in the French Alps welcomed over 800 top competitors – the news has positive implications for Kerry’s tourism sector.

Kerry had been mooted for the 2011 championships but progress on the Shroneboy plan did not progress as quickly as had hoped. Indeed, the idea for a local course originated over three and a half years ago and following an extensive search — including Ordnance Survey and Google Earth maps — for a suitable site by project backers, landowner Con O’Donoghue was approached and came on board.

Backed by Cycling Ireland, last year Kerry County Council granted planning for a downhill track and permission to construct 24 car parking spaces, single storey ancillary changing accommodation and filtration works at Shronaboy. While a submission was received concerning the site, no official appeal was lodged and full planning was granted for the track which was designed by CDesign engineers.

The project is supported by the department, Fáilte Ireland and South Kerry Development Partnership, while Kerry County Council and the NPWS have also been receptive. The landowner, Mr O’Donoghue, has also invested in including a cross country track.

Subject to weather, most of the work on the track should be completed before the year is out.